What is a gastric balloon?

A gastric balloon is a non-surgical, non-pharmaceutical tool used in the treatment of obesity. In conjunction with a supervised diet it can help you achieve the health and aesthetic benefits associated with weight loss.

Gastric balloon weight lossThe balloon system consists of a soft, expandable balloon, a placement tube and a filling system. The surgeon inserts the balloon orally and then expands it with sterile saline fluid once it is placed in your stomach. When full, the balloon is too large to pass in
to the bowel and will now float freely in your stomach.

Is gastric balloon suitable for me?

The gastric balloon procedure may be particularly useful for people considered too overweight to undergo vital surgery. The use of the balloon to successfully reduce weight prior to surgery can also help to reduce the risks associated with surgical procedures on overweight patients.

If the operation is a success, you should be able to achieve long-term weight loss. However this depends on your ability to keep to your new lifestyle.

Long-term weight loss should improve any obesity-related health problems you may have, such as:

    • Diabetes
    • Hypertension (raised blood pressure)
    • Sleep apnoea
    • Mobility
    • Self-esteem.

The simple approach to losing weight involves eating less, improving your diet and doing more exercise. Sometimes medication prescribed by your GP can help.
There are also other surgical options to gastric balloons, such as shortening your digestive tract, called a  sleeve gastrectomy; by-passing your stomach and part of your intestinal tract with agastric bypass or gastric banding which create a small pouch at the top of the stomach that limits the quantity of food than can be consumed. All of these are major surgical procedures that normally involve a hospital stay. However the balloon has fewer complications in installation and there is a lower risk of serious complications. Recovery in the more invasive procedures is also usually slower.

What does the gastric balloon operation involve?

Gastric balloon installation

The balloon may remain in place for six months. Over time the acidic content of the stomach will weaken the balloon material and cause the balloon to deflate so longer periods of use are not recommended. Should your surgeon recommend use of the balloon for longer than six months, it is necessary that the balloon be replaced with a new one when the six-month interval has been met.
While the balloon is in place, your surgeon may prescribe a course of oral medication to reduce your stomach acid, (this may reduce the possibility of stomach irritation and damage to the balloon).

Gastric balloon removal

General complications of any minimally invasive procedure may include:

    • Pain
    • Minor bleeding
    • Nausea and vomiting.

Specific complications of this operation may include:

    • A feeling of imbalance similar to sea sickness
    • Gastric discomfort, nausea and vomiting are common for the first few days following balloon placement
    • A feeling of heaviness in your abdomen
    • Abdominal or back pain
    • Gastro–oesophageal reflux or indigestion may also occur
    • There is a theoretical (and rare) risk that the balloon could rupture. In this case it would usually pass through the bowel and be expelled naturally.

How soon will I recover from the gastric balloon procedure?

You should usually be able to go home the same day assuming your have no serious adverse reaction to the balloon. In the first few weeks you will only be able to take liquids, progressing to soft food and then to solid food.

You should be able to return to work after one to two days depending on how you stomach adjusts to having a foreign object present. Sometimes the balloon causes nausea but this will normally subside in a day or two.

For more information or help in finding a consultant call us or fill out the form on your right and we will call you back.

Contact Information:

Bristol Hospital Address:

The Chesterfield 3 Clifton Hill Clifton, Bristol BS8 1BN

Call Dan Titcomb consultant 0117 911 9466